top of page

Total Contract Value (TCV): Founder-Led Sales Explained

The Total Contract Value (TCV) is a critical metric in the Software as a Service (SaaS) industry. It is a measure of the total monetary value of a particular customer contract, encompassing all recurring and non-recurring revenue. This metric provides a comprehensive overview of the financial value a contract brings to a company over its entire duration.

total contract value (TCV) founder-led sales

For founder-led sales in early-stage startups, understanding and leveraging TCV can be a game-changer. As founders navigate the challenging waters of building their first sales process, having a firm grasp on TCV can provide valuable insights into the profitability and sustainability of their business model.

Understanding Total Contract Value (TCV)

The Total Contract Value is the complete revenue potential of a contract, including all recurring revenue, non-recurring charges, and potential upsells or expansion revenue. It is a crucial metric for SaaS businesses as it helps in forecasting future cash flows, assessing customer value, and planning strategic sales and marketing initiatives.

TCV is particularly important for early-stage startups where founders are directly involved in sales. It provides a clear picture of the revenue that can be expected from each contract, enabling founders to make informed decisions about resource allocation, pricing strategies, and sales targets.

Components of TCV

The Total Contract Value is composed of several elements. The first is the recurring revenue, which is the predictable and repeatable revenue from customers. This is typically the subscription fee that customers pay on a regular basis for using the service.

Non-recurring charges are another component of TCV. These are one-time charges that are not part of the regular subscription fee. Examples include setup fees, onboarding fees, and charges for additional services or features.

Calculating TCV

Calculating the Total Contract Value involves adding up all the components of a contract. This includes the recurring revenue multiplied by the contract term, plus any non-recurring charges. The formula for TCV is as follows: TCV = (Recurring Revenue x Contract Term) + Non-Recurring Charges.

It's important to note that TCV does not include potential revenue from contract renewals or upsells unless these are explicitly included in the contract. Therefore, TCV provides a conservative estimate of a contract's value.

The Role of TCV in Founder-Led Sales

For founder-led sales in early-stage startups, TCV plays a pivotal role. Founders who understand TCV are better equipped to negotiate contracts that maximize revenue, set realistic sales targets, and allocate resources effectively.

Moreover, TCV can help founders identify the most valuable customers and focus their sales efforts accordingly. By understanding the total value of each contract, founders can prioritize high-value contracts and allocate their time and resources more efficiently.

TCV and Sales Strategy

Understanding TCV can significantly influence a startup's sales strategy. By knowing the total value of each contract, founders can identify which deals are most profitable and prioritize them accordingly. This can lead to a more focused and effective sales strategy that maximizes revenue.

Furthermore, TCV can inform pricing strategies. By analyzing the TCV of different contracts, founders can identify which pricing models generate the most revenue and adjust their pricing strategies accordingly.

TCV and Customer Success

TCV is also closely linked to customer success. A high TCV indicates a valuable customer, which means that ensuring their success is crucial. By monitoring TCV, founders can identify key accounts and implement strategies to ensure their success, thereby maximizing customer lifetime value and boosting revenue.

Moreover, understanding TCV can help founders identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. By knowing the total value of a contract, founders can identify which customers are most likely to be interested in additional services or features, and tailor their sales and marketing efforts accordingly.

Limitations of TCV

While TCV is a valuable metric, it is not without limitations. One of the main limitations is that it does not take into account the time value of money. This means that it assumes that a dollar received today is worth the same as a dollar received in the future, which is not the case due to inflation and the opportunity cost of capital.

Another limitation of TCV is that it does not consider the probability of contract renewal. While TCV provides a measure of the total value of a contract, it does not take into account the likelihood of the contract being renewed, which can significantly impact the actual revenue realized from a contract.

Overcoming TCV Limitations

Despite its limitations, there are ways to make TCV a more useful metric. One approach is to discount future cash flows to reflect the time value of money. This provides a more accurate measure of a contract's value by taking into account the diminished value of future cash flows.

Another approach is to incorporate the probability of contract renewal into the TCV calculation. This can provide a more realistic estimate of a contract's value by taking into account the likelihood of the contract being renewed.


In conclusion, Total Contract Value is a crucial metric for founder-led sales in early-stage startups. It provides a comprehensive measure of a contract's value, helping founders make informed decisions about sales strategy, resource allocation, and customer success initiatives.

While TCV has its limitations, understanding and leveraging this metric can provide valuable insights that can significantly impact a startup's revenue and growth. Therefore, for founders building their first sales process, mastering TCV is a must.

Take Your Sales to the Next Level with SalesMVP Lab

Ready to transform your startup's sales process and maximize your Total Contract Value? At SalesMVP Lab, we empower technical founders like you to build a robust, founder-led sales strategy with The FOUNDER Operating System and The Minimum Viable Sales Process. Don't let sales be the bottleneck to your growth. Book a call with us today and start crafting your tailored sales journey to success.

15 views0 comments


bottom of page